Abbi Browning

Abbi Browning

The Bucket List: Hot Air Balloon Rides

A hot air balloon ride is something that I have finally managed to tick off of my bucket list recently, after many hours of research and debate as to whether I was brave enough to do so.

Although I haven’t yet been on my dream ride through Cappadocia just yet, I did manage to take to the skies in England, which made me all the more excited to talk about the opportunities you can have abroad.

In short: if you haven’t done this already, what’s stopping you?

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

How much does a hot air balloon ride cost?

The price for a hot air balloon ride varies around the world. Prices vary from around £100/$100 up to multiple hundreds of dollars. It depends on the popularity of the area, the local competition and the perceived ‘value’ of the experience.

Hot air balloon rides across the stunning landscape of Bagan in Myanmar comes up as one of the most expensive options, with a one hour ride costing around $300.

For a similar experience in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, expect to pay around $115 for one person for half an hour.

Those bucket list balloon rides over Cappadocia in Turkey are around €175 for one person for an hour.

Another great option for hit air balloon rides is in safari destinations. Seeing the landscape and the wildlife from above is something else, although the cost is quite breathtaking too. A Masai Mara balloon ride in Kenya will set you back around $400, and a ride in neighbouring Tanzania over the Serengeti or Ngorongoro crater can be as much as $500.

In the UK, Virgin currently have a £99 offer for anyone interested in a more local trip. One of the most beautiful balloon rides in the UK is over Bath in the Westcountry.

Image by rhodes8043 from Pixabay

Best places to go hot air ballooning

As mentioned earlier, my ideal balloon trip would be across Cappadocia in Turkey, but realistically the locations for these are endless. Some of the world’s best destinations to experience a hot air balloon ride are:

  • Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Bagan, Myanmar
  • Serengeti, Tanzania
  • Loire Valley, France
  • Jaipur, India
  • Namib Desert, Namibia
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Luxor, Egypt
  • Dambulla, Sri Lanka
  • Sedona, Arizona, USA
  • Cumbria, UK
  • Queenstown, New Zealand

One thing to bare in mind when booking this is that regardless of prior arrangements with the company, your selected day may become unavailable if you booked weeks in advance and the weather patterns were less predictable from the original time. If the day is forecast to have strong or no wind, rescheduling may be necessary, so consider this if you need a certain time window for the trip. Also, remember that this is for the safety of everyone involved!

Due to the nature of hot air balloon rides, safety is much more prominent that other travelling methods. Make sure your company is reputable and takes you through an orientation of take-off and flight rules, as well as whether the pilot is FAA-licensed, with insurance to cover passengers.

Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

What should I take on a hot air balloon ride?

Depending on your package you may want to take your own picnic-style snacks or drinks, as journeys tend to be an hour long. When you factor in preparation time and post-flight arrangements, however, this can become more like three to four hours, so make sure you allow time for this within your schedule.

I had upgraded my package to include beverages and savoury food along with my flight (you can choose options such as champagne or prosecco), so this could be worth the extra money if you prefer companies that cater to your needs. I’d recommend that you check your quote beforehand to make sure this is including everything, so that you won’t discover extra hidden fees after you’ve had the experience. This would also be a great touch if you’re planning a romantic visit!

Should I go?

Of course, the biggest issue with hot air balloons tends to be the height that can be reached when in the balloon. Generally speaking, due to the surface area of the basket you’ll be in, I’d say rides aren’t best for those with this phobia, because of this. Also, several people tend to worry about the stability of the flight, but I’ve found that some plane rides can actually experience more turbulence than you’ll feel in a balloon basket. Travelling with a reputable and responsible company will mean that they’ll check the weather patterns before your ride, ensuring that you’d never go up on a risky day.

These would also be ideal if you wish to see a foreign country yet have little time to do so, as the elevation can help you see for miles from your location. A hot air balloon is also quite a romantic setting, when paired with a sunset and bottle of your chosen drink, so could be an amazing honeymoon experience (or even a good time to pop the question?).

Other factors to consider

Although younger children can partake in hot air balloon rides, most companies would suggest that it is unsuitable to those younger than five. Some companies are stricter and don’t allow children at all, so make sure you research this beforehand if this will affect you. Also, of course remember that these experiences tend to be for 2-8 people only, so check the group sizes available with your company.

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